Chondroitin (Molecule of the Month for January 2006)
Chondroitin sulfate, Ramott, Chonflex
Chondroitin sulfate is a dietary supplement. It is naturally found polymer of linear repeating units containing D-galactosamine and D-glucuronic acid. Chondroitin sulfate belongs to a family of heteropolysaccharides called glycosaminoglycans or GAGs. Chondroitin sulfate A is found in humans in cartilage, bone, cornea, skin and the arterial wall. Chondroitin sulfate B is also known as dermatan sulfate. It is abundant in skin and is also found in heart valves, tendons and arterial walls. Chondroitin sulfate C is primarily found in fish and shark cartilage. Chondroitin sulfate is not a small molecule but a large polymer which contains between 15 to 150 basic units of D-galactosamine and D-glucuronic acid.
Chondroitin sulfate supplements are usually isomeric mixtures of chondroitin sulfate A and chondroitin sulfate C and from cartilaginous rings of cow trachea and pork byproducts (such as ears and snout) and also shark cartilage.
As a dietary supplement chondroitin sulfate is claimed to maintain of the structure and function of cartilage (referred to as chondroprotection), pain relief of osteoarthritic joints and anti-inflammatory activity.
Initial studies of the possible benifits of chondroitin sulfate taken orally was that the highly polymeric structure would not be absorbed by the body, however, recently it has been shown that the smaller polymer units can be absorbed by the small intestine, and therefore may be taken to joints by the blood stream and possibly have beneficial effects.
Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)
polymeric D-galactosamine and D-glucuronic acid
Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for January 2006 )